Repost from Digital Making 2015 : by our Maker, Austin Keating
When it comes to writing for the internet, you have to always remember that lolcats.com is just a click away for your reader, so when it comes to blogging, generally the quicker you get your ideas across, the better you’ve done.
Readers of the internet like gleaming the meaning of a story from its words, so they don’t necessarily want to read every word in a sentence. You have to construct your narrative so that the important stuff sticks, which is a tricky thing to do.
You probably “skim” all the time too, right? So intuitively, my first piece of advice would be to write for yourself – write in a way that would keep you tuned-in as a reader.
Outside of that, here are some guidelines:
- Don’t be afraid of using bullets. If you have a list of things, particularly things that need to be explained, use bullets. Throw in some bold if you’re feeling extra fun. Readers like seeing a change in format. They like knowing what the key concept is, and what they can glaze over.
- Keep paragraphs short. In journalism, we drop the prefix from the word and refer to them as just “graphs,” just a fun fact I thought I’d share. The idea is that you give the reader some breathing room, and additionally, access points for when they jump ahead.
- Inverted pyramid. So along with the previous bullet, try and structure your graphs like this: 1st graph should have a hook and something that explains what your post is about. The 2nd graph should follow that up with more details. Then you get to the meat of your story, and with these graphs, try to move what you view as important up.
- Use subheads. It helps organize your story better.
- Hyperlink important things. This helps you seem more credible, and makes you a resource for your reader. It helps to add some depth to your blog.
- Have a “flow.” You know, transition from paragraph to paragraph. Don’t use “First” or anything like that, just flow from concept to concept. Try to end your sentences in a way that leads into your next sentence.
- Be concise. If you don’t, the reader will think you’re grasping for word counts.
- Share anecdotes. Just be sure you’re telling them in an interesting way, like with quotes.
- Be conversational. It’s a blog, not a report. Directly address your audience, ask rhetorical questions, etc.
- Explore different formats. We’re all familiar with the Buzzfeed list format that’s taken the internet by storm. I mean, even the Weather Channel has them now. It takes on a completely different format than your standard blog, but it works. Imagine “7 simple steps to make your very own ____.” There are other formats out there too, just look around and be creative.
- Use extra elements. WordPress allows you to not only upload media, but also to imbed using the text feature. The class itself has a limited amount of server space for our photos, so we probably could only post a couple per story, depending on size. However, we are allowed to embed. You can upload a video to Youtube and embed it onto your blog. You can also upload your photos to box and embed a whole slideshow onto your blog. You can even embed Spotify playlists.
- Market your content. Every writer is their own best salesman. Write your story for a particular audience, and then market it to that audience. Post it to twitter and use a trending hashtag in that audience, and at least post it to your wall for your friends and family.
- Optimize your headline. Essentially, label your post something with words you think your audience would Google. So if you’re blogging about your favorite beat recipe, label it “The Best Beat Recipe.”
- Add tags. Search engines use tags to help searchers find what they’re looking for. The more specific your tags are, or the tags that you think most people would use to find a story like yours, the better your post will do. Also, always add a tag for whatever week you’re post is going in, like “week2.” You can add tags on the sidebar of your post page.
- Don’t be afraid to just end it when you run out of things to say, you don’t need to restate things with a concluding paragraph. It’s fluff. You can save a gem of info or analysis for the last few paragraphs, we call those kickers. I did it on this post on Medium